The countdown app on my cell phone confirms that the Great Gaspesie Adventure is now less than three days away. With tents and sleeping bags packed and campground and hotel reservations lined up, I’ve turned my attention to “mundane” matters like getting my car serviced (that clean bill of health wasn’t cheap!), installing a cargo box on the roof rack (also not cheap!), and confronting the bane of my existence: laundry. In my almost-impossible-to-find spare moments, I’m amazed that I’ve mustered the wherewithal to make this trip happen. The fact is, I’m not a seasoned traveler (work trips don’t count, guys), and other than hazy childhood recall of my father’s Canuck reveries, I barely understand French. I certainly can’t speak it worth beans!

The Gaspesie Adventure is as much about needing to disconnect as it is about a long-overdue need to reconnect with a far-away place that’s deep in my soul.  I think the Germans call it Fernweh. I yearn for a place I’ve never been. I’m not satisfied gazing at photographs of the Northern Gannets or the Chaleur Bay anymore, and I haven’t been for a long time. I need to be with them, even if only for a couple of days.  If I’m lucky, I’ll get to see some Atlantic Puffins on île Bonaventure, too – and if you don’t know what they are, look on the internet because they’re funky and adorable and utterly not Cape Cod.

So, I really can’t wait to reach Logan Terminal B on Friday morning where I will meet my traveling companion and long-ago boarding school classmate, Robin Craig. What an experience, what a story, and what a blessing!

Gens du pays, c’est votre tour
De vous laisser parler d’amour
Gens du pays c’est votre tour
De vous laisser parler d’amour

Robin and I have scoped out a workable itinerary for our Gaspesie Journey. She arrives in Boston on August 18 and from there, we drive to Quebec, arriving there Lord knows when! It’s a long drive! After not seeing each other for 46 years, I suspect we’ll have plenty to talk about in the car. Day 1 concludes in the heart of Quebec, the historic downtown, a place that has begun to feel like home to me. I love that city. From there, we travel up the Saint Lawrence to Riviere du Loop, a more manageable leg of the trip, and then on to Matane, where we hope to camp for the night in a nearby park Robin found out about online. After Matane, we reach Gaspe and Perce, the focus of this adventure. We’re going to try to stay in/around Gaspe for a couple of days, head for the national park at Ille Bonaventure, and visit the Northern Gannets that reside there. This trip would be incomplete without a stop at Chaleur Bay, then on to Rimouski, back to Quebec, and to our last stop in Canada, Sherbrooke, QC. Alas, Robin leaves on August 27. Both of us have classes to teach this fall; hers begins before Labor Day. I will make it home for my birthday after all (August 28). 

I do believe that things happen for a reason and that people are put in our lives for a reason, though often the reasons may not be obvious. I’ve decided that for now, I’m not going to try to decipher why this amazing turn of events has unfolded as it has, and how it is that the lives of a Presbyterian minister and an urban planner have crossed again after close to five decades. I simply accept that it’s a gift, and I’m extremely grateful for it. 

How often does ANYONE get to take a 10-day road trip to Canada with a boarding school classmate from 46 years ago? That is the privilege I will have from Aug. 18 – 27, when I travel with the Rev. Robin Mary Craig to Gaspesie in search of the Gaspe Gannets and the Chaleur Bay. A trip I expected to do on my own has turned into an amazing reunion for two women whose paths last crossed in 1971 on a lovely all-girls’ campus overlooking the Connecticut River. I’m convinced that everything happens for a reason – and even more convinced that this will be the trip of a lifetime for me. It’s a Facebook success story, to be sure.

Robin – thank you.

Welcome to my “maiden” blog post for Barrett Planning LLC and Judi Barrett: planner, traveler, musician, and really good cook! More interesting posts will follow soon as I plan my road trip to Gaspe, Quebec, in August 2017!